The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has implored Africa’s leading finance, economy and development experts, meeting in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, to chart the course that will lead to Africa’s effective economic transformation and take off.
Adballa Hamdok, deputy executive secretary of the ECA, urged the meeting of the Committee of Experts who began meeting Thursday ahead of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Economic Development, to urgently devise well thought out strategies, policies and plans that would herald a genuine and inclusive African structural transformation.
The joint AU/ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Economic Development is focusing on “Industrialisation for an emerging Africa” as the continent pursues industrial strategies and policies that will support the promotion of value addition and economic transformation and reduce dependence on the production and export of unprocessed materials.
According to Hamdok, despite the global economic down turn, accompanied by heightened tension and uncertainty, Africa was able to record a robust 5.0 per cent growth rate in 2012, well above the world average.
“As we welcome Africa’s commendable growth performance, even against the backdrop of global economic turbulence, we cannot lose sight of the disturbing disjuncture between this growth and prevailing social conditions in many of our countries,” the ECA senior official warned.
“As a matter of fact, the reasonably good growth across the continent has not been translated into the broad-based economic and social development needed to lift millions of Africans out of poverty. Moreover, it has not been equitable.”
Hamdok expressed concern that Africa continues to suffer from high levels of unemployment, particularly among the youth and women partly as a result of heavy dependence on primary commodities, as a sector which by itself cannot create enough jobs and inclusive growth.
The ECA is calling for accelerated industrialization as one of the surest ways of ensuring the sustainability of Africa’s recent economic growth, Hamdok said.
He also urged member states to review progress made under the Millennium Development Goals as target year 2015 draws near, for the purposes of appreciating what remains to be done.
“As ECA research shows, progress is uneven across countries and across social sectors. Indeed, while there is progress, there remains a lot to be done with regard to women’s empowerment, gender equality and maternal mortality.”
Hamdok also underscored the importance of South-South cooperation in Africa’s development agenda, particularly in the light of the growing role of emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil in Africa’s trade and investment landscape.
He said it was imperative that Africa should begin to frame the pillars and strategic context of its engagement with emerging economies.
This, he said, could include channeling Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from the global South towards enhancing productive capabilities, upgrading infrastructure and magnifying cooperation in agriculture to boost the production of higher value-added agricultural products.
The meeting of the Committee of experts, which will end Sunday, will analyse the theme and make recommendations to the Ministers for adoption when they meet 25-26 March.